Books: Big R/Big N

TRANSPARENT THINGS by VLADIMIR NABOKOV 104 pages. McGraw-Hill. $5.95.

Some day Vladimir Nabokov may succeed in writing a novel that is impossible to review. Certainly Transparent Things, his first new work since Ada, would be easier to review for an audience that had already read it. Like the work of any great writer, the book is best enjoyed when read for the surprises in the story, the diaphanous beauty of the prose, the clear irony and humor. But Nabokov makes such a reading infernally difficult. He is not only writing his story but writing about writing.

The mechanics of narration, the conundrums of...

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